The Great Cow Hoist

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The above picture is not me. I would never have smiled while I milked.

There has been an ongoing argument between Connie and Marilyn for years. At the risk of alienating one of my sisters, as a true witness, I feel obligated to set the record straight. Mother was there as well, but everyone knows how ditzy she is. Additionally, she tries to be impartial, so she sees the story both ways, depending on which sister is putting the most pressure on her at the time.

To begin with, milking the cow was the most universally hated job in the household, palmed off on whichever God-forsaken soul who had the least excuses and broke first. Of course, neither Daddy nor my brother could milk. It was a Biblical injunction, book, chapter, and verse known to Daddy alone. “Thou canst not take milk if thee cannot give it.” I never heard this verse quoted by another and seriously doubted its existence, but if it was good enough for Daddy, by golly, the lowly women in the family were stuck with it.

Mother was stuck with milking in the morning on school days due to the amount of time involved in de-manuring required before school. As much as she hated milking, she didn’t want to get notes from school, “Your daughter comes in reeking of cow s__t!”

There was no salvation for us on evenings, weekends and holidays. “I’ve milked all week. Now it’s your turn!” Eventually, Phyllis and I fought it out. I grudgingly took mornings since I got up earlier and preferred to get the evil deed over with. She took evenings. It was horrible! First of all, milking involved wading manure and mud to lure the cow to the least manure slopped area. We never had a milking shed with fancy mangers to fasten the cow’s head in while they eat their grain. I suspect there was no Biblical injunction preventing construction of a milk shed or manger, just unconcern on Daddy’s part, since he didn’t have to worry about getting hooked or the weather while milking. Milking, standing in mud and manure, with freezing rain running down my collar was my personal favorite. I feel sure all that rain that ran off the cow’s back must have greatly improved the purity of the milk.

To the best of my recollection, I never milked a constipated cow. Invariably, Bessie or Star would feel the urge as soon as I got started. In the event she was a little slow getting started, I could always content myself with being slapped with a tail caked with dried manure left from the last episode. Just so you know, personal hygiene is not high on a cow’s list of priorities. The milker could count on several solid tail slaps while milking, in addition to being stepped on if one is not good at following the cow’s lead.

Enough bragging. On the day of the Great Cow Hoisting, there was no milking involved. Mother had dragged me out to help her separate the cow and new calf who had escaped his pen to join his mother in the pasture. For your edification, I’ll explain. The cow and calf had to be separated all day to keep him from stripping her of all the milk that he felt was rightfully his. He got to spend a few minutes with her twice a day to nurse after milking, when the milk from one udder was saved for him. Afterwards, the cow turned out to pasture leaving the calf penned up.

Connie and Marilyn were standing nearby. As the cow ambled by, she turned her head to the side, hooking Connie’s shorts. Surprised to find herself burdened with a little girl, she lowered her gently back to the ground, setting her on her feet.

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Where Babies Come From

imageI have two younger sisters born seventeen months apart.  I was about eight when Connie came along.  Mother had told us she was expecting, but since I wasn’t interested in babies, I quickly put it out of my mind, not think thinking much more about it.  I even socked one of my cousins for saying my mother was pregnant.  I thought it was an insult like “trashy” or “low class.”  I was shamed to no end when my aunt confirmed that my mother was indeed “pregnant” and the word meant “expecting.”  Not only was Mother “pregnant!” She’d put me in a position to humiliate myself.

Connie and Marilyn's Toddler PicturesI found Connie very cute and entertaining once she got old enough to play.  Always happy to play with her, I’d forsake her as soon as she cried or needed a diaper.  Phyllis was a “little mother” and could care for Connie as well as Mother.  When Connie was a year old, Mother and Daddy announced a second baby was en route.  By now, I’d picked up a little misinformation and knew baby production involved the two of them.  They’d “done it” though what “it” involved was very foggy.  They’d alway said if I had any questions, come to them, so one day when Mother had her friends over for coffee,  I asked if they’d had to do “it” more than five times to get five children.  This clearly wasn’t the type question she meant.  I guess questions about Sunday School were more to her taste.  She invited me to mind my own business and not ask any more questions.

 

 

 

Pee’s a’ Flyin’

imageConnie and Marilyn, my two baby sisters were only seventeen months apart, inseparable from the start.  Connie, the older, was protective of Marilyn.  Marilyn, on the other hand, was likely to tease Connie.  One day, they were playing outdoors when Connie squatted behind an old car and peed in an old hubcap lying on the ground.  As Continue reading

No Honor among Thieves

wildflowersI won’t bother to lie.  That was me you saw on the side of that country road or on that old home place in the country digging up plants..and that little, bitty old lady you saw with me; that was my mama.   She’s my look out and spotter. When arrested, I won’t even be able to claim the act was spontaneous, since I keep a nice little camping shovel and plastic bags under my truck seat especially for my thieving excursions.  I’ll probably try to explain that Mother has Alzheimer’s and escaped from me, but that might not fly, since I’ll be the one out wading in the muck while she’s standing by the truck, but I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Just so you know, I’m not the only thief she raised.  My sister, Connie makes raids just like I do.  We both make sure to get enough to share, since it’s inevitable one of us will eventually get caught.  Bud swears he won’t bail me out, but I suspect he’ll come get me when he gets hungry.  Mother is on her own.  She should have raised us better.

Applesauce on the Rooftop

Baby on roofThere were unspoken and implied rules.  My personal favorites were the implied ones, open to interpretation. These were based on old adages such as, “If everyone else jumped off the top of the house would you?”  The obvious answer was, I’d probably have been the first to jump, then swear I was pushed when some other dumb butt jumped and got hurt, implicating me as the ringleader. Continue reading

I Smell a Rat

imageConnie and Marilyn and two of their friends had been talking about sleeping in the barn for quite a while. They’d built themselves a lovely hideaway over the feed room where they spent many hours together.  On one of the coldest nights of the year, they convinced themselves the time had come.  Mother and Daddy weren’t concerned about Continue reading

Children’s Tender Feelings

Greedy kidFarm kids learn early not to make pets of livestock.  There’s no way those friendships won’t end badly. Knowing this, kids still sometimes get attached. My younger sisters Connie and Marilyn bottle-fed an orphan calf until it was old enough to be put out to pasture with the rest of the cows. Long after he ran with the big boys, he’d hang around Continue reading

Pantiless Party Performance

Surprise partyConnie and Marilyn were adorable little girls, born a little over a year apart.  Born fouth and fifth of five children, we all doted on them, with the exception of my brother Billy, who was displaced by all that cuteness.  Mother dressed them in pastel shades of the same style dresses as much as she could.  Connie was fair and blue-eyed with cotton white Continue reading

Working Hard to Get to Heaven

ChurchChurch was hard on me. All that sitting still and not talking were hard on a kid back when ADD was just called BAD. Believe me, I know. My prissy older sister, Phyllis, loved anything to do with church, making me look particularly bad. The only glimmer of hope was that she was slow and Mother threatened to leave her every Sunday. When I tried Continue reading